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Green Room (2015) Movie Review by John Walsh

GREEN ROOM

Director: Jeremy Saulnier
Writer: Jeremy Saulnier
Stars: Anton Yelchin, Imogen Poots, Alia Shawkat

Green Room is a turbulent, violent, siege thriller from Jeremy Saulnier. It follows the Ain’t Rights, a downtrodden punk band that unintentionally witness the murder of a young woman and subsequently find themselves trapped within a remote Oregon roadhouse, surrounded by a murderous group of skinheads that want them dead.

The film opens in a cornfield with the band awakening in their van. Evidently empty on gas, the fragile nature of their day to day existence is perfectly illustrated by their need to syphon fuel in order to continue on to a pre-arranged podcast interview. Upon arriving, they answer the usual inane questions, before things take an awkward turn for the worse when a promised gig falls through. The interviewer, probably fearing a beating, offers them a short set that earns them a whopping $25 and some takeaway food scraps consisting of rice and beans. The same mohican wearing interviewer later tells them of a bigger opportunity at an out of town roadhouse and so off they go chasing the cash.

Now at the roadhouse, the band then humorously chose to begin their gig with a Dead Kennedy’s cover of ‘Nazi Punks Fuck Off’. Perhaps not the best of song choices in a venue, where I think even dear Adolf himself would’ve blushed at the sheer amount of Nazi paraphernalia on show. SS lightning bolts and all manner of other neo-Nazi symbolism adorning just about every free surface. The bands less than subtle displeasure at the audiences ideologies earns them a few thrown bottles, finger flicks and looks of disgust, but the majority appreciate the ballsiness and mosh along regardless. The film then cuts to end of their gig, with the band walking backstage towards the dressing room, only to be told of a change of plan and hurriedly ushered away. Sam (Alia Shawcat); the drummer, suddenly remembering that she’s left her phone, asks Pat (Anton Yelchin); the bassist, to retrieve it. Sneaking away, he hurriedly enters the dressing room and stumbles upon a murder scene. Lying on the floor, with a knife protruding from her temple is a young woman. Of course, in a panic and with her friend screaming at him to call the cops, Pat rushes from the room and rings 911, but only has time to speak a few brief words before it’s ripped from his grasp and the band are forced into the room again.

It’s at this point really that the film begins. The band are locked inside the room with the bearded brute of a man, Big Justin (Eric Edelstein) and left to stew a little while, whilst Gabe (Macon Blair), who’s had to concoct a story, runs off and explains the mess to his superior. He then picks two loyal members of the group and has them stab each other in order to get rid of the nuisance cops. Darcy (Patrick Stewart) the leader of the organised, skinhead, crime network, mostly dealing heroin and dabbling with fight dogs, then arrives on the scene clearly meaning business. Initially, he masquerades as a reasonable man who’s trying to resolve the situation amicably, whilst in the background he’s already coordinating a plan to have them killed. Speaking softly through the door to the trapped musicians, he attempts to reassure them that everything will be fine. That is until things go south in the dressing room and the band overpower Big Justin, taking him down with a choke manoeuvre and relieving him of his gun. “You’re trapped. That’s not a threat, that’s just fact” he tells them as the facade begins to slip.

What follows is a pretty traditional horror style film if truth be told. The musicians and the dead girls friend, Amber (Imogen Poots) begin frantically trying to find a means of escaping from within and they do actually discover a bunker underneath the dressing room, but their hopes of escape are dashed when they discover the sole exit is locked from above. And so, when Pat has his arm grotesquely sliced open by the ‘red lace’ machete wielding lunatics, after attempting to hand over the gun to Darcy, it becomes apparent that there’s only one option left. That option being to try and fight their way out. In the usual fashion of these type of films, there’s several failed attempts at escaping, with the groups numbers slowly dwindled down as the film progresses. There’s plenty of shocking moments, including a couple with a particularly blood thirsty fight-dog, not to mention some brutally realistic gore. It’s wasn’t all serious either with some good use of dark humour throughout. The running joke about the desert island bands was particularly good. It’s reemergence, and punch line if you like, in the final shot was genuinely well worked and funny.

The film features some pretty solid acting from the cast as a whole, with even smaller supporting characters putting in very decent performances. I was particularly impressed with the dialogue and interaction between most of the characters, which felt very natural. With that in mind, I can’t really go into full detail with each and every one of them. The three that really stood out to me however were Anton Yelchin as Pat, Imogen Poots as Amber and Patrick Stewart as Darcy. The latter really impressing as something of a mastermind villain, methodically issuing orders out, whilst spearheading an elaborate cover story, that would see the band take the fall for the deaths at the roadhouse. It was the earlier encounters though that were a firm favourite of mine. His soft, dulcet tones, carrying the most subtle of American twang. Yelchin and Poots meanwhile, I thought had great chemistry in their scenes together and both delivered impressive, believable performances that effectively carried the film from around the mid way point through to the end.

I enjoyed this film. It was a simple enough story, but was very well executed. It had a good mixture of tension, action and properly shocking moments. I would have no hesitation recommending this film.

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